My First Time at INBOUND 2014: 12 Key Takeaways from a n00b

We just got back yesterday from an exciting week in Boston for HubSpot's INBOUND 2014 conference. It was a jam-packed week full of inspiring keynote speakers, thought-provoking breakout sessions, happy hours and a concert by Janelle Monáe. As a first-time attendee to Inbound, I wanted to share with you my initial thoughts and overall take on the event as well as 12 key takeaways applicable to Inbound marketing!

#1: "Experts" are clueless

Guy Kawasaki made this excellent point in his speech. So many times in history, so-called "subject matter experts" have made horribly bad calls about the future. He quoted one person from IBM saying, "I expect there to be no more than 5 computers in the world." Man, was he wrong. "Experts" may know a thing or two about how things work, but take what they say with a grain of salt and don't ever let them limit your imagination.

#2: Change your mind - it is a sign of intelligence

People who claim to have everything figured out are usually wrong, in denial, or a combination of both. Changing your mind about your life, career, or other personal choices shows a sign of development, maturity, and personal improvement. Change your mind and change it often.

#3: Be BOLD

It's okay to take a stance in your marketing, even if it is a bold one. Show your affiliation and be proud of what you stand for. A person with no opinions is a boring one. And don't be afraid to piss anyone off for standing up for what you believe in.

#4: Jump to the next curve

Another point made by Guy Kawasaki. In this regard he is talking about setting goals. Don't set small, incremental and easily attainable goals to reach. Instead, set lofty, high, yet realistic goals and jump to the next curve!

#5: Customers cannot tell you what they need

Just like so-called "experts", customers cannot tell you what they need. They know what they want, but sometimes they are horrible at expressing it. As a marketer, it is your job to show people what they need.

#6: Value ≠ Price

It is a big misconception that something that is expensive must be valuable. While it may be true for some things, it is not always the case. Anyone who has ever bought an Apple product knows this to be true. Apple products are much more expensive than alternative products that will get the same job done. But Apple is greater than the sum of it's parts, and the value of an item is what you get in the long term. Value is found in customer service, support, consistent products, and so on.

#7: A+ players hire A+ players

Steve Jobs was a big believer in hiring people that were smart and inquisitive, always pushing the boundaries with the desire to learn and know more. Guy Kawasaki explained that if an A player hired a B player, then that B player would hire a C player and so on down the line. Instead, A players must hire A+ players in order to grow the company and keep the talent top-notch. 

#8: Leaders eat last

This was the biggest key takeaway from Simon Sinek's talk about leadership. He preached that a great leader will make any necessary sacrifices for their team. In the same way that a mother will do anything for the safety and security of her children, a true leader will always put their subordinates first, even if it means they get nothing in return. 

#9: You must write down your goals in order to attain them

You've probably heard the phrase, "I'll believe it when I see it." Now try reversing that to read, "I'll see it when I believe it." If you envision your goals, it is much easier to reach them. And in order to envision them, you must write them down. Try writing down a new life goal every year or once every six months. Imagine what you could have attained by now!

#10: Put your phone away when talking to people

How many times a day do I see this? Far too many. When someone is talking to you, stop texting. Look up. Look them in the eye and have a real conversation. This tip was from Simon Sinek's riveting presentation about genuine leaders and the human connection, and I think we can all relate. 

#11: Give credit to your source

As a marketer, we are constantly re-purposing content and curating information. After all, why reinvent the wheel? But at the same time, it is important to always give credit where credit is due. Always link back to original posts and don't be afraid to share someone else's content. 

#12: Marketing should be about attracting, not interrupting

Finally, the best for last. This was a tip during Dharmesh Shah's (CTO and Co-Founder of Hubspot) presentation, and I picked it because I think it sums up what Inbound marketing is all about in one sentence. Marketing should be about attracting, not interrupting. As with old traditional methods of marketing, you were interrupting consumers of their daily lives. Inbound seeks to find people in a natural way by providing content to those who find it. 

Bonus! Check out the video from Janelle Monáe's performance at INBOUND Rocks!


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